Natalia Dollezhal, the maestro's Moscow spokesperson, told the Itar-Tass news agency that the great cellist and conductor is "recovering his strength in a sanatorium in Barvikha [outside the capital] and he feels well."
She acknowledged for the first time that Rostropovich had surgery while in the hospital: "He underwent a complex operation on the liver, and now [doctors] have prescribed therapeutic exercise and walks in the fresh air." (Though Dollezhal did not say so explicitly, the agency NEWSru reports that doctors removed a tumor.) The spokesperson also confirmed that the maestro's wife, retired soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, has taken up residence alongside the maestro.
Early last month, after falling ill in Paris, Rostropovich flew to Moscow and entered a hospital there. Though Dollezhal refused at the time to disclose his location or the nature of his illness (other than to maintain that it was not unduly serious), two Russian newspapers reported that he was a patient at the country's top cancer clinic, the Blokhin Center, where he was visited by (among others) President Vladimir Putin and Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov.
Following his surgery, the maestro went through what the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda describes as a "complicated recovery period." On Monday (March 5), according to the paper, doctors decided to send him to Barvikha, an affluent village not far from Moscow known for its sanatoriums, for rehabilitation; he was transferred yesterday.
Komsomolskaya Pravda, citing sources among the Blokhin Center staff, has consistently reported Rostropovich's condition as being more serious than have other outlets (which generally quote Dollezhal). Today the paper quotes a doctor there as saying, "Rostropovich's condition can now be described as critical but stable. As yet, unfortunately, there is no cause for optimism, and no one is giving a prognosis for the future." The sources go on to say that he is suffering severe pain but that he is "simply hanging on."
Dollezhal told Itar-Tass that Rostropovich will remain at the sanatorium until his 80th birthday, which falls on March 27 and for which a celebration is planned at the Kremlin. She added that he is working on preparations for the 13th Tchaikovsky International Competition, which begins on June 13 in Moscow and of which he is the chairperson.